Gavin Vinson obituary

Other lives: Professor of biochemistry at Barts, London, and editor of the Journal of Endocrinology

My husband, Gavin Vinson, who has died aged 82, was a scientist driven by profound curiosity, and an excellent musician who made his own viola and cello.

A professor of biochemistry at Barts, in London, as well as editor of the Journal of Endocrinology (1985-1992), in his early research Gavin investigated how steroid hormones are produced in the adrenal glands of mice. From this evolved a career of remarkable diversity, including research into breast cancer, hypertension, fertility and addiction, with collaborations in Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, the US and Europe.

Born in Penzance, Cornwall, he was the second son of Pauline (nee Northey) and Stanley Vinson, and spent his first two years in Newlyn. Gavin’s father worked for the Post Office and, during the second world war, the family moved to East Barnet, north London.

He thrived at Queen Elizabeth grammar school in Barnet, and in 1957 went on to study zoology at Sheffield University, followed by a PhD in 1963. His first post was as a lecturer in zoology at Sheffield. The university later awarded him a DSc (1982) to acknowledge his contribution to scientific research. After a year’s research in Hong Kong, he moved to St Bartholomew’s medical college in 1967.

In 1985 he was made professor of biochemistry there, then at Queen Mary College in 1989. In 1994, he became dean of the faculty of Basic Medical Sciences (the combined medical colleges of Barts and the Royal London hospital, on the Queen Mary site).

As mentor, Gavin provided a stimulating environment in the laboratory for his research group. He nurtured the talents of dozens of PhD and postgraduate students, constantly encouraging them and sending them off to international conferences.

His other great love was music. He was an excellent pianist, string player and composer, all at a high amateur standard. He developed an early love of jazz, and frequently got groups together to play in a variety of places such as the foyer of the Barbican, London, and local festivals. In the last five years of his life he developed a new passion – instrument-making. He made a viola at the Violin Workshop in Cambridge, and then a cello, which he was learning to play until he died.

In 2008 Gavin was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma and defied the odds by living a full life for another 12 years.

We met as students at Sheffield University, in the orchestra, and married in 1965. After Sheffield and Hong Kong, we settled in Muswell Hill, north London.

I survive him, along with our three children, Mary, Jenny and William, five grandchildren, Natalia, Rianna, Lilja, Ruby and Stanley, and his brother, Michael.

Bronwen Vinson

The GuardianTramp

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